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UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 7 | Jul. 3, 2003


Dear Editor:

Shirley Sullivan, a 2003 Killam Teaching Prize Winner (UBC Reports, May 2003), advises her students that before venturing criticism ‘they must first appreciate…what the philosopher is saying.’ (I have suppressed ‘fully’ from the quoted line. To ask ‘full understanding’ as a condition of their critically addressing the thought of another is to consign students to perpetual silence. Indeed, the mouths of the teachers would be stopped were the demands enforced.) Isn’t pedagogical gain more effectively made by encouraging inchoate critical activity and gently correcting it ambulando? Still, Professor Sullivan’s is reasonable-sounding advice. She goes on however to attribute to Plato the ‘conviction that people can be happy only if they are being creative.’ Unless ‘creative’ is being used here in some esoteric sense, the claim in patently false. Professor Sullivan seems to have breached her own counsel. As to the claim about creativity itself; the image of the tortured artist has wide currency in our culture. True, Professor Sullivan doesn’t say that creativity assures happiness. She asserts the converse. But the latter, as patently false as the attribution to Plato, is even apart from its untruth an unusual view for the experienced pedagogue to endorse. Perhaps Professor Sullivan was careless with her words during the interview. I must however sadly report that my view of the Killam awards as gifts made by colleagues to colleagues is further confirmed.


M. Glouberman
Arts One Programme

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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